Non-human primates have emerged as an important resource for the study of human disease and evolution. The characterization of genomic variation between and within non-human primate species could advance the development of genetically defined non-human primate disease models. However, non-human primate specific reagents that would expedite such research, such as exon-capture tools, are lacking. We evaluated the efficiency of using a human exome capture design for the selective enrichment of exonic regions of non-human primates. We compared the exon sequence recovery in nine chimpanzees, two crab-eating macaques and eight Japanese macaques. Over 91% of the target regions were captured in the non-human primate samples, although the specificity of the capture decreased as evolutionary divergence from humans increased. Both intra-specific and inter-specific DNA variants were identified; Sanger-based resequencing validated 85.4% of 41 randomly selected SNPs. Among the short indels identified, a majority (54.6%-77.3%) of the variants resulted in a change of 3 base pairs, consistent with expectations for a selection against frame shift mutations. Taken together, these findings indicate that use of a human design exon-capture array can provide efficient enrichment of non-human primate gene regions. Accordingly, use of the human exon-capture methods provides an attractive, cost-effective approach for the comparative analysis of non-human primate genomes, including gene-based DNA variant discovery.
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